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Charlize Theron (/ʃɑːrˈliːz ˈθɛrən/ shar-LEEZ THERR-ən; Afrikaans: [ʃarˈlis trɔn]; born 7 August 1975) is a South African and American actress and film producer. She is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and the Silver Bear for Best Actress.
Theron came to international prominence in the 1990s by playing the leading lady in the Hollywood films The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999). In 2003, she received critical acclaim for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming the first South African to win an Oscar in a major acting category. She received another Academy Award nomination for playing a sexually abused woman seeking justice in the drama North Country (2005). Theron has since starred in several top-grossing action films, including Hancock (2008), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Prometheus (2012), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), The Fate of the Furious (2017), and Atomic Blonde (2017). She also received praise for playing troubled women in Jason Reitman’s comedy-dramas Young Adult (2011) and Tully (2018), receiving Golden Globe Award nominations for both films.
Since the early 2000s, Theron has ventured into film production with her company Denver and Delilah Productions. She has produced numerous films, in many of which she had a starring role, including The Burning Plain (2008) and Dark Places (2015). Theron became an American citizen in 2007, while retaining her South African citizenship. In 2016, Time named her in their annual Time 100 listing of the most influential people in the world.
Roles in big studio films (2012–present)
In 2012, Theron took on the role of villain in two-big budgeted films. She played Evil Queen Ravenna, Snow White’s evil stepmother, in Snow White and the Huntsman, opposite Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, and appeared as a crew member with a hidden agenda in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle found Snow White and the Huntsman to be “[a] slow, boring film that has no charm and is highlighted only by a handful of special effects and Charlize Theron’s truly evil queen”, while The Hollywood Reporter writer Todd McCarthy, describing her role in Prometheus, asserted: “Theron is in ice goddess mode here, with the emphasis on ice […] but perfect for the role all the same”. Both films were major box office hits, grossing around US$400 million internationally each.
In 2013, Vulture/NYMag named her the 68th Most Valuable Star in Hollywood saying: “We’re just happy that Theron can stay on the list in a year when she didn’t come out with anything […] any actress who’s got that kind of skill, beauty, and ferocity ought to have a permanent place in Hollywood.” In 2014, Theron took on the role of the wife of an infamous sheepherder in the western comedy film A Million Ways to Die in the West, directed by Seth MacFarlane, which was met with mediocre reviews and moderate box office returns. In 2015, Theron played the sole survivor of the massacre of her family in the film adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel Dark Places, directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, in which she had a producer credit, and starred as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), opposite Tom Hardy. Mad Max received widespread acclaim, with praise going towards Theron for the dominant nature taken by her character. The film made US$378.4 million worldwide.
Theron reprised her role as Queen Ravenna in the 2016 film The Huntsman: Winter’s War, a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, which was a critical and commercial failure. In 2016, Theron also starred as a physician and activist working in West Africa in the little-seen romantic drama The Last Face, with Sean Penn, provided her voice for the 3D stop-motion fantasy film Kubo and the Two Strings, and produced the independent drama Brain on Fire.
In 2017, Theron starred in The Fate of the Furious, as the main antagonist of the entire franchise, and played a spy on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 in Atomic Blonde, an adaptation of the graphic novel The Coldest City, directed by David Leitch. With a worldwide gross of US$1.2 billion, The Fate of The Furious became Theron’s most widely seen film, and Atomic Blonde was described by Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times as “a slick vehicle for the magnetic, badass charms of Charlize Theron, who is now officially an A-list action star on the strength of this film and Mad Max: Fury Road.”
In the black comedy Tully (2018), directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, Theron played an overwhelmed mother of three. The film was acclaimed by critics, who concluded it “delves into the modern parenthood experience with an admirably deft blend of humor and raw honesty, brought to life by an outstanding performance by Charlize Theron.” She also played the president of a pharmaceutical in the little-seen crime film Gringo, released in 2018.